Care and feeding of an indie author – aka, look after yourself
One of the major things I do have quite a bit to say after that extended hiatus is the ‘care and feeding’ of your muse, yourself and your immediate family. I don’t mean ‘earn enough to buy food’, because if that’s your goal, you really should probably be looking elsewhere to at least supplement our income. I mean ‘looking after thyself’.
The big problem with looking after myself is in short, I just don’t. I don’t look after myself, I find it practically impossible to do so and I do feel at the best of times that I’m fighting a losing battle when considering what I should be doing at any given time. Writing and working from home has two major drawbacks (in amongst the good stuff).
- It’s lonely – not good for your mental health, not one bit. Even introverts need to talk to people outside their immediate sphere of reference every once in a while. If you’re a true hermit and can get on with just your family, consider this – contact with others broadens our mind as much as reading books. It’s a psychologically proven fact that humans can only cope with around 150 connections (the size of a small village) at any given time – so having only four is potentially damaging.
- More important than that though, you’ve got to learn to deal with the outside world in general, or you’ll really not cope at conventions etc. And while there are exceptions to this rule, the vast majority of us aren’t that special.
Me, I’m anti-social, unless it’s to do with the Nanowrimo or Uni. There’s no time to be shy when people are watching me though, so I cope quite well with conventions too – but I put myself in a position of dealing with 40+ people in a month at least once a year (Nanowrimo) so that seems to help.
What doesn’t help is most of my social connections are online – so on balance, I’m probably not doing my mental health much good at all.
- Exercise, diet and fresh air – those of us who are parents might not struggle *as much* with this, but the average work at home freelancer doesn’t leave the house often. Perhaps once or twice a week at most. We eat badly, we’re not particularly mobile and of course, when the summer rolls around it’s too sunny to work outside – in winter, it’s probably too cold. In other word, excuses.
Running is actually a good way to let your brain process the scenes you’re stuck on though – or at least, I’ve found that.
I used to run three times a week – I was about nine weeks into Couch to 5k when we were in a car accident which injured my shoulder. No more running so far – my shoulder aches too much. As I already mentioned, I’m horribly antisocial, so all that leaves me is exercise in the house. Zumba, twice a week, and another xbox based exercise game for me, plus I try to eat well.
And from this week, whenever it’s warm/sunny enough, I will be outside, at my teak garden table, or on my front doorstep with my laptop, getting some sun.
Feeding your muse
And don’t forget your muse in all this – read – watch interesting programs, talk to people. Do stuff that interests him or her 😉 It might seem silly but what goes in, eventually comes out – so if you’re putting good quality stuff in, it’s bound to translate and come out again in your own work.
Reading poorer quality books is a waste of time in most cases, unless you’re specifically interested in seeing what they’re doing wrong.
Which leads me to…
If you’re happy, your family is too
One of the last things I wanted to touch on was happiness. It’s difficult to quantify that for other people, so here’s a thought. I’m often told by my doctor that if I’m happy, my family is too, and that’s true. Make yourself happy, and you’ll have the tools to deal with whatever is ailing your family, if anything is.
What do you think? And what makes you happiest of all – let us know in the comments – we love dialogue!
Please note – this disclaimer practically appears every time I write about mental health – there is no shame in dealing with mental health issues – and if you need help, you should seek it whenever you can.